Health effects of daylight saving time and tips to ease them

By: Michelle Olofson .

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Unless you live in one of the few states that doesn’t abide by daylight saving time, you’ll have to manually move clocks ahead one hour on Sunday.

While “spring ahead” and “fall back” are easy ways to remember which way to go with the seasonal move of the clock, adjusting your sleep pattern can prove a bit more difficult. And an NBC News report suggests the change can even trigger some health issues.

“Springing forward” in time is meant to optimize how much natural light can be used for the workday. But from a sleep perspective, losing that one hour of sleep can have negative impacts that each person experiences differently.

Often this type of sleep deprivation feels like a mild case of jet lag. People who are already sleep deprived may experience more negative impacts both in function and how they feel emotionally when their circadian rhythm is interrupted.

Negative effects may include a slower reaction time, decreased alertness, less control over their emotions or a slower time getting up and going in the morning. Springing ahead does not allow people to get up in the natural daylight, which can delay their internal clock from wanting to wake up.

Tips

Thankfully, most people will start to adjust to the time change in a few days. Here are some tips for making the transition to daylight saving time easier:

  1. Prepare ahead of time by going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier for a few nights prior to the change.
  2. Get up 10 minutes earlier each day the week prior to daylight saving time.
  3. If you cannot plan ahead, try to offset the loss of sleep by going to bed earlier than usual the night of the time change and sleep an extra 30 minutes that morning.
  4. Dim the lights earlier than usual to trigger your body to prepare for sleep.
  5. Expose yourself to natural sunlight as soon as possible in the morning.
  6. Take a short nap during the day to help combat sleepiness.
  7. Do not drive if you are feeling drowsy.

Ongoing sleeplessness

For most Americans, sleep disruption is usually limited to adjustments like daylight saving time or traveling to a different time zone, but some people regularly struggle with sleeplessness.

Sanford Sleep Medicine operates several specialized centers where patients receive assessments, diagnosis and treatments for a variety of sleep-related disorders and sleep-exacerbated disease.

The centers work in conjunction with an array of specialties including neurology; pediatrics; ear, nose and throat; pulmonary medicine; psychiatry; and psychology. They help patients identify the cause of their sleep problems and find ways to treat or effectively manage those conditions.

Posted In General, Health, Heart